Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For now, he's the face of the Bucs

GM Jason Licht has the Glazers’ confidence.

GM Jason Licht has the Glazers’ confidence.

Jason Licht was the only man in the Bucs organization who spoke about the firing of Lovie Smith last week. That was no accident. He also is the only one conducting interviews, and eventually deciding who the team will hire — with ownership approval — as the next head coach.

"They've empowered me, right now, to be the face of the football operations, to run the football operations, to lead the charge for the next head coach," Licht said.

Licht, 44, has worked at every level in football operations under successful head coaches Bill Belichick (Patriots), Andy Reid (Eagles), Jimmy Johnson (Dolphins) and Bruce Arians (Cardinals). He knows how to get along with varied personalities, and each of those coaches quickly instilled winning cultures.

Licht knows what it looks like and what it feels like.

No Bucs general manager has had this much varied experience and power within the organization. Rich McKay, who began as the team's general counsel, was responsible for hiring Tony Dungy. But the Glazer family that owns the Bucs took away that authority when it traded for Jon Gruden. Mark Dominik assisted in setting up interviews for the Glazers when they hired Greg Schiano. He was fired two years later.

This feels different because it is different.

Licht began the process this weekend by interviewing Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, two men he has worked with. Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is considered a "strong candidate" and will interview as well.

Don't believe Koetter is a prohibitive favorite. The Bucs didn't fire Smith because they feared Koetter going to another team.

The Glazers simply lost faith in Smith, particularly in his ability to hire assistants or fix the defense, which regressed once he took over play-calling from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. He also did a poor job with control of the 53-man roster, particularly acquiring free agents.

This will be the fifth Bucs' head coach since 2009. It might also be Licht's only bite of the apple. Few GMs get a chance to hire more than one head coach. He's going to explore every avenue to get it right. Frankly, since 2009, the Glazers have been lousy at it. So what kind of coach is Licht looking for?

"You look for a guy that's very authentic and honest and can tell you the truth — sometimes that doesn't necessarily mean that's what you want to hear but what you need to hear," Licht said.

There are telling things in that statement. There clearly was a feeling at One Buc Place that Smith didn't always hold players accountable, particularly on defense, for poor play and penalties.

It's always preferred when a GM can take the owner's vision and hire a head coach. And if he controls the personnel decisions but can communicate well with the coach and acquire talent, dysfunction rarely occurs. It's when those lines blur that you have issues.

Licht has the keys to the kingdom. It's a bold statement by the Glazers, who hope their faith will be rewarded.

For now, he's the face of the Bucs 01/10/16 [Last modified: Sunday, January 10, 2016 7:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. College World Series puts Florida Gators in elite company

    Blogs

    With Tuesday night's College World Series win, the Florida Gators put themselves in rare company.

    Florida celebrates after defeating LSU in Game 2 of the College World Series finals, Tuesday, in Omaha, Neb.
  2. Bucs like their offensive line, but PFF, not so much

    Blogs

    As the Bucs prepare for training camp and the buildup to the 2017 season, no position presents more of a he-said-she-said dichotomy than offensive line.

    The Bucs have confidence in third-year left tackle Donovan Smith (76) as well as right guard J.R. Sweezy and center Ali Marpet, shown during mandatory minicamp this month.
  3. Sign up for our new daily News at Noon email newsletter

    News

    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.

  4. Rays morning after: Why Alex Cobb was out of the game and Alex Colome was in

    Blogs

    Alex Cobb obviously did a really good job pitching the first eight innings for the Rays on Tuesday.

    Alex Cobb said he had no problem with the decision, even though he had what would have been the Rays first complete game since May 14, 2016, in his sights.